Locking Out the Lockout

If all you wanted for Christmas was the NHL season than you’re in luck. After what seemed like an eternity to hockey fans, the league and the players finally came to an agreement that ended the 2012-13 lockout just in time to scrape together a matrix for a 48-game 2013 season. Almost identical to the results of the ’94-’95 lockout which proposed a similar 48-game matrix that left out the Winter Classic and the NHL All-Star game, the 2013 season will do the same.

Fans and players alike underwent an extreme case of deja-vu as we have gotten all too familiar with the NHL’s lockout habits. The 1992 strike kick-started this chain of labor actions in the NHL and though it was the least severe of the four recent lockouts it still managed to postpone 30 games in the 91-92 season. The 10-day strike led to season play ending in June for the first time in NHL history. The 75th NHL season wasn’t all bad though as it brought out the “Turn Back the Clock” uniform program and put the original six NHL teams in throwback uniforms… oh yeah, and we still got to watch our favorite teams play an entire 80-game season.

Two years later in the 94-95 lockout we got a glimpse of the future as the 3 month, and 10 day lockout cancelled a total of 468 games including the All-Star Game. The spark to this fire was the implementation of a salary cap favored by the owners but opposed by the players. Though the season was shortened to the 48-game matrix we have to settle for this year the NHLPA took it into their hands to produce some good out of the bad. Some of the Players left North America to play in various other leagues but the ones who remained took part in the “4-on-4 Challenge” organized by the NHLPA and raised more than half a million dollars in support of the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities of Canada and various hockey associations throughout North America.

After roughly ten years of lockout free hockey the most devastating labor dispute in all of sports in North America took place. The collective bargaining agreement that resolved the 94-95 lockout expired and a day later, without hesitation the 2004-2005 season was in jeopardy. The 10 month and 6 day dispute known as the 2004-05 NHL lockout would cancel what would have been the 88th season of play in the NHL and mark the first time in 86 years that the Stanley Cup would not be awarded. Not only did the lockout result in 1,230 un-played games but since there were no results to base the 2005 NHL Entry Draft on a lottery system was put in place for a draft that included one of the most highly regarded draft picks in hockey history, Sidney Crosby. If you are a Pittsburgh Penguins fan than you can pull some good out of the 04-05 lockout as the Penguins came out of the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes” with the player dubbed as “The Next One”. For all other hockey fans we were just happy to hear that the dispute was over in time for the 2005-06 season.

Almost another decade of lockout free hockey goes by and nearly a month before the 2012-13 season is to get underway another lockout hits the face of the NHL. Any guesses as to the topic of desire that sparked the most recent lockout? If you guessed CBA you’d be correct. It’s not all bad though because the fans will still get their hockey fix in 2013 which is expected to get underway on January 19 with opening day games rumored to be between the Penguins and Flyers, Kings and Blackhawks, Senators and Jets, Maple Leafs and Canadians, and Blues against the Red Wings.

Dust off those hockey jerseys and get ready for some 2013 NHL action because a glass half empty is always better than no glass at all right?